General Health

What is Spinal Tuberculosis [TB]?

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Spinal tuberculosis occurs when a bacterium called mycobacterium tuberculosis starts growing within the bones of the spinal column. While the organism initially causes an inflammatory reaction, as time passes, it can lead to the destruction of the bone and its supporting structures.

What are the symptoms?

Usually, a person with spinal TB experiences back pain, fever, reduced appetite, and weight loss.

However, if left untreated, it can progress further, leading to collapse and fracture of the vertebrae, followed by accumulation of pus within and adjacent to the spinal column. In extreme cases, it can lead to paralysis of the hands or legs and the person may develop a hunchback. 

How is spinal TB diagnosed?

An MRI scan can help in the detection of infection. However, pathological and microbiological diagnosis is needed to confirm spinal TB. Upon confirmation, the doctors would start the treatment and management of this condition immediately to relieve pain, prevent deformity of the spine, and restore its alignment. 

Recommended watch: Hear from an expert doctor

Is spinal TB curable?

Yes, spinal TB is curable if detected early and provided with proper medicinal compliance. According to experts, it may take 20 to 24 months of different antibiotics treatment along with therapy to get rid of spinal TB. Patients are recommended not to stop the medicines in between and complete the entire treatment to reduce the bacterial load and eradicate TB of the spine. 

However, patients who have developed paralysis may require surgery to reduce the bacterial load in their spine. Studies suggest only 20% of people may require surgical intervention to treat spinal TB. Furthermore, there are several minimally invasive treatment procedures available for the treatment of spinal TB and they are safe as well. Some of these include CT-guided drainage of paravertebral abscesses or clearing of the dead and diseased tissue through either conventional techniques or endoscopic methods.

How to reduce the risk of contracting spinal TB?


1. Consume fruits and vegetables daily

Eat seasonal fruits and vegetables regularly as they contain high amounts of antioxidants that may protect your cells against free radicals. Free radicals in the body increase the risk of spinal TB, cancer, and other diseases.

2. Take a protein-rich diet

A protein-rich diet containing cottage cheese, chicken, and fish thrice a week can help prevent and speed up spinal TB. 

3. Maintain hygiene

Ensure you follow basic hygiene practices including covering the mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing and washing hands after visiting a public place to stop the further spread of the disease.

4. Stay in well-ventilated rooms

Maintain good ventilation and cleanliness at home. TB bacteria can remain suspended in the air in the absence of proper ventilation for several hours, while natural light can kill them.

5. Get yourself vaccinated

BCG vaccinations are effective against TB bacteria. Therefore, one must get vaccinated against TB to prevent health consequences. 


Spinal TB is a bacterial disease that can happen to anyone from children to adults. However, it is important to raise awareness against spinal TB to avoid its debilitating health consequences. Those affected with spinal TB must adhere to the doctor's advice to get a better hold of their condition. For more information, 

Consult An Expert Neurosurgeon


- Authored by Dr. Tulika Roy


General Health

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